Korean J Med Hist.  1993 Dec;2(2):99-113.

Vitalism and Mechanism: Their Meanings in the Millieu of the 17th and 18th Centuries

  • 1Department of Physiology and Biophysics, College of Medicine, Seoul National University, Korea.


The views on the life in the early modern period(the 17th and 18th centuries) with their socio-cultural backgrounds and their meanings at that time were discussed in this paper. Those views discussed here were the dualistic, mechanistic one of Rene Descartes(1596-1650), the animistic, vitalistic one of Georg Ernst Stahl(1660-1734), and the monistic, mechanistic one of Julien Offray de La Mettrie(1709-1751). Author stressed that the processes of their view formation were influenced by the wide range of the various political and religious factors as well as the scientific, medical facts and opinions at that time, and that not only the contents of the views but also their historical contexts should be pursed in the study on the medical thoughts.


Vitalism; Mechanism; Descartes; Stahl; La Mettrie

MeSH Terms

English Abstract
History of Medicine, 17th Cent.
History of Medicine, 18th Cent.
Philosophy, Medical/*history
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